redBus: Art and Science of Product Management

redBus: Art and Science of Product Management

Amit Nigam, Shankhadeep Banerjee

This case follows the entire journey of a Product Manager (PM) at redBus – a popular online bus ticketing platform in India – as (s)he attempts to solve a business problem using a structured process of product management. The business problem given to the PM by the CEO is to improve the visitor-to-customer conversion rate at redBus as many of their users were dropping off the platform after searching for tickets without buying.

The PM begins with exploring the problem space, gaining an understanding of the larger context of the problem, namely the online bus travel sector in India and the challenges faced by the industry players. Then (s)he conducts a deeper investigation of the actual user behavior data on redBus using Product Analytics (specifically, the method of funnel analysis) to identify the major scenarios when the platform users were not completing the ticket purchase. The PM uncovers that the users searching for bus tickets on the shorter routes seemed to drop off significantly more just after looking at the available bus options, as compared to the longer routes. 

Next, the PM formulates hypotheses to examine the reasons behind this intriguing behavior of short route travellers, and tests them using customers interactions and field studies. From the rigorous user research and hypotheses testing, the PM could confirm three categories of expectations of short route travellers which were not being fully met by the current features of the platform. Armed with this clarity about the problem space, the PM moves into the solution space, ideating feature solutions for the users. With inputs from various stakeholders, (s)he finally designs a platform feature called ‘Open Ticket’ that could fulfil the three needs of their short route users. Then (s)he works with the engineering team to develop and launch the MVP of the solution using the Agile Scrum methodology. Finally, the post-launch user behavior is tracked to validate the efficacy of the Open Ticket solution. Unfortunately, the designed solution did not work as per expectations, leaving the PM with a decision dilemma that is critical in lean startups, i.e., whether to persevere with the Open Ticket idea by trying to fix it, or drop it completely and pivot to a new idea?

While the case ends at the dilemma, the accompanying teaching note provides the last piece of the story, where the PM identifies the issues with the initial solution and decides to re-design it. This highlights the importance of iterative learning in product management.

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